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Associate Professor: Jerry Johnson, Chairperson
Professors: William Joseph Cunningham, Jane Hillier-Walkowiak, Christopher Morris
Associate Professors: Michael Harvey, Julie Kiernan, Peter M. Sampieri
Assistant Professors: Alex Jacobs
Professors: Celena Sky April, James Fallon, David Allen George, Myrna Finn, Thomas J. Hallahan, Elizabeth Hart, Vera Shepard, Whitney L. White, Patricia Zaido
Bachelor of Arts – Theatre Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts – Theatre Arts
Design (Costume, Scenic/Properties, Sound or Lighting)
Mission of the Department
The Theatre and Speech Communication Department offers a transformative, liberal arts and professionally based curriculum. In our classrooms, students explore and engage with creative and ethical expression and apply what they learn in the laboratory of our theatre productions.
Salem State Theatre is committed to training the next generation of creative theatre artists through studio and classroom-based embodied learning. Through the rehearsal and production of timeless and immediate plays, we inspire challenging dialogue with our students and with larger communities, in the belief that theatre must be civically engaging. We celebrate the power of theatre as an active and collaborative art form with the purpose of illuminating our common humanity.
The Theatre and Speech Communication Department serves all of the students at the University through multiple course offerings in the General Education requirement of Oral Communication. Salem State Speech is committed to training the next generation of oral communicators through classroom-based embodied learning. These transformational courses offer students the opportunity to ethically express themselves in their personal, professional and civic lives.
Programs in Theatre
Theatre Arts at Salem State University
Two fully operational theatres exist on the North Campus, the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts (housing a proscenium theatre and a black box) and the Callan Studio Theatre. Four major productions are staged each year in addition to guest artists, studio appearances, staged readings and student workshops being offered. Recent Salem State University Theatre productions have earned regional and national recognition as well as acclaim for excellence in both the design, technical, playwriting, directing and performance areas.
The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) – Theatre Arts
The Bachelor of Arts degree is designed to provide students with a theatrical world view, a foreign language and a minor that is supportive of their major career aspirations. Students are expected to achieve competency in performance, dramaturgy and technical theatre/design through such courses as Acting, Directing, Theatre History, Stagecraft, and Stage Technology. Approximately one-third of the total undergraduate credits hours in the B.A. degree program are devoted to theatre courses (36 credits) and provide a theatre generalist’s body of course work and practical theatre experiences conducive to further study at graduate school, conservatory or regional theatre.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) – Theatre Arts
The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is designed to provide a specialized program for students who show exceptional promise in the performance or production aspects of theatre. The curriculum involves intensive study in acting, design, stage management, or stage technology. The objective of the program is to provide the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate with a high level of competency, specialized knowledge and extensive experience in preparation for a professional career in theatre. Approximately one-half of the total undergraduate credits hours in the B.F.A. degree program are devoted to theatre courses (66-69 credits) and provide a pre-professional’s body of course work, practical theatre experiences and production responsibilities.
Students must apply to enter the Bachelor of Fine Arts – Theatre Program. Students are encouraged to apply no later than the fall of their sophomore year in order to be able to graduate in four years. All students planning to earn a B.F.A. degree must audition or have a portfolio review. Students who successfully complete the audition/interview process will be considered B.F.A. applicants. Students must meet the following criteria in order to advance to B.F.A. Candidate status:
- Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Theatre courses.
- Students must accumulate the necessary Theatre Production Points (TPP – see below).
- Students must audition/interview midterm before the Theatre faculty and demonstrate their capacity to continue in the B.F.A. program.
Should the audition/interview not be acceptable, the B.F.A. student will be put on probational status and will have one semester in which to reconcile the situation. However, should the audition/interview not be acceptable for a second semester, the B.F.A. student will be invited to complete their Salem State University education in the B.A. degree program.
Theatre Production Points and Courses
It is the belief of the Salem State University Theatre and Speech Department that experiential learning and supervised laboratory work in theatre are fundamental to the discipline. All theatre arts majors, BA and BFA, must actively participate in faculty and staff supervised Theatre Department productions at Salem State University. Theatre Participation Points (TPP) are earned by working on department productions each semester in house management, stage management, box office, costume shop, stage crew, run crew, build crew, properties, and performance. One hour of lab-work within an eligible position equals one TPP, or Theatre Participation Point. Refer to the Theatre Handbook for the Theatre Participation course syllabus and a list of eligible positions.
Full-time theatre students are required to accumulate a minimum of 50 TPP per semester for every semester they are enrolled, with a total of 400 TPP over a four-year program required for graduation. Please note: the awarding of TPP is based on the quality of demonstrated attendance and work-ethic for the job done. The Theatre faculty and staff meets post-production to award TPP to the students involved in that production.
All students are required to attend a mandatory TPP Job Fair at the beginning of each semester to sign up for one or more production positions. Additionally, they must enroll in a Theatre Participation course each semester they are enrolled in the theatre program.
First-year and transfer students will earn half of their first semester’s TPP by being involved in the First Year Lab, a fun, creative experience involving a 4 -week rehearsal period and a performance for the Department and the campus. All theatre majors must begin their initial 100 Theatre Participation Points by specifically serving on build or run crews in costume/scenery/props within their first 30 degree credits.
Please see additional details in the Theatre Handbook and Theatre Participation course syllabus in the Theatre and Speech Communication Department.
Theatre Participation Policy
It is the belief of the Salem State University Theatre and Speech Department that experiential learning and supervised laboratory work in theatre are fundamental to the discipline. All theatre arts majors, BA and BFA, must actively participate in faculty and staff supervised Theatre Department productions at Salem State University. Theatre Participation Points (TPP) are earned by working on department productions each semester in house management, stage management, box office, costume shop, stage crew, run crew, build crew, properties, and performance. One hour of lab work within an eligible position equals one TPP, or Theatre Participation Point. Refer to the Theatre Handbook for the Theatre Participation course syllabus and a list of eligible positions.
Theatre Arts Minor
Eighteen (18) hours in Theatre Arts courses are required for a Minor in Theatre Arts. THE 101 Introduction to Theatre Arts is required for a Minor in Theatre Arts. Students then have a choice of taking five theatre courses from a menu of 16 available courses.. For additional information, see Theatre Arts Minor.
Speech Communication Minor
The study of oral communication benefits students majoring in all fields, particularly those students interested in pursuing careers in business, law, media, politics, education and service professions. The minor consists of 15 credits (5 courses). For additional information, see Speech Communication Minor.